Religion in the U.S.

Growth Exaggeration

“You’re against church growth, aren’t you?” asked a new, young pastor. I looked at him for a moment, pausing to reflect on the fact that I am often my own worst enemy.  I can fully understand how someone who reads my writing — books and blogs — might get the […]

What Am I Missing?

I think I have simply evolved into an old fart.  Quite recently and suddenly I find myself at odds with a significant number of leaders in the church.  It is like we are speaking a different language.  No, not “like” we are speaking a different language — it’s a different […]

Philosophizzle

A few months ago I wrote a post on Frederich Schleiermacher’s view of the relationship between practical, historical, and philosophical theology.  (For whatever reason, this post, “Root Rot in the Theological Tree,” has become my most viewed post of all time…)  The main point of the essay was that while […]

How Deep the Well?

With apologies, this is a “rerun” of the post I put up in March.  A number of people have asked for it to be “made available” because they had trouble finding it.  I’m just reposting it to make it easier to find.  The topic is clergy self-care, but it applies […]

“We” Faith in a “Me” Culture

I am convinced that the most serious challenge to the Christian church in the United States is the individualistic, consumeristic, self-indulgent, and personal entitlement mindset of most Americans.  On a recent church visit, I met a forty-something woman who told me, “I come to church for me.  I ask my […]

Shape Ball Spirituality

Who hasn’t seen a shape-sorter ball for infants and toddlers?  From the earliest days of our cognitive development, we learn to identify, differentiate, associate, and categorize.  It is so much fun to watch the joy of a child slipping the appropriate shape through the proper slot.  It obviously imprints strongly on […]

How Badly Do We Really Want It?

Following a recent conversation about “growing the church,” I realized that the church we want to grow bears a striking resemblance to the church we already have… and to the church model made popular by the conservative evangelical movement of the late 20th century.  A dozen different entrepreneurial pastors described […]

A More Prayermissive Society

Various recent studies and articles note an upswing in the practice of prayer in American culture.  Must be a good thing, right?  More prayer, more devotion to God?  More prayer, more kindness and compassion in the world?  More prayer, more attention to God’s will?  Not so much.  The increase in prayer […]

Bipolar Church

bipolar — characterized by opposite extremes, as two conflicting political philosophies When I began doing congregational consulting in the late 1980s, I made a distinction between two core strategies of healthy churches: growth or mission.  A growth strategy pursues more — more people, more programs, more money, more building, more […]